The government has not yet asked the ministry of defence to send a summary for the appointment of a new army chief, revealed a senior government official, dismissing speculations that there has been any civil-military deadlock over the key appointment.
“You will see the clear picture will emerge by Monday evening regarding the process of appointment,” the high-ranking official told The Express Tribune on Sunday while requesting anonymity.
The new army chief will take charge on November 29 as the incumbent, General Qamar Javed would hang his uniform the same day after completing six years in office.
There has been extraordinary interest in the appointment of his successor as many believe former prime minister Imran Khan’s long march is linked to the change of command in the army. He has asked his supporters to gather in Rawalpindi on November 26, two days before Gen Bajwa hands over the baton to the new army chief.
There have been speculations that the government and the army may have locked horns over the new appointment. One conjecture is that the army is not agreeing to the nominee of the government for the top slot.
However, a top government official rubbished those claims. “There are no differences between the civil and military leadership on the issue. Everything is on track.”
When asked, the official said the government would only receive the summary from the ministry of defence when it would request for the same. “We haven’t yet requested for the summary,” the official added, saying the prime minister would soon write a letter asking for the summary. The official said the appointment would be made as per planning.
There have been also questions about the seniority list. Rumours have it that a certain candidate may not be part of the summary since his retirement is due before the army chief’s retirement.
But the government figure dismissed such claims, saying he would be very much part of the summary and considered for the top slot.
As per the seniority list, Lt General Asim Munir, Lt General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Lt General Azhar Abbas, Lt General Numan Mahmud and Lt General Faiz Hameed are in contention for the job of chairman joint chiefs of staff committee and the army chief.
While the government hasn’t yet asked for the summary, the summaries in 2013 and 2016 for the appointment were received several weeks before the change of command.
A former bureaucrat who was involved in the process was surprised by the handling of key appointment this time by the government.
The bureaucrat said that in 2013 and 2016 PM Office received summaries at least 40 days prior to the retirement of the army chief. The PM Office went through the details of each candidate and prepared briefs for the then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
He then consulted his close aides closer to the date of the change of command and took the final decision. The ex-bureaucrat expressed concerns about making a “mockery” of the process, which should have been done seamlessly.
Meanwhile, the role of President Arif Alvi is also being debated as the government is worried he may block the summary of the new army chief.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Saturday warned the president against resorting to any steps impeding the process of key appointment.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also met Dr Alvi twice last week in what appears to be part of efforts ensuing smooth process.
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